NFL got it wrong with Aldon Smith’s suspension


As someone with a personal DUI experience, I will never excuse someone getting behind the wheel drunk. Anytime anyone drives impaired they risk their life and the life of anyone else on the road.

However, Aldon Smith‘s one-year ban from the NFL was not about a stance on drunk driving. If they wanted to make a statement against drunk driving they could have banned Smith right after an August incident.

Smith may or may not have driven drunk on Aug. 6, as he was arrested and charged with drunk driving, hit-and-run and vandalism. Eventually, the San Francisco 49ers released him, because it was not Smith’s first encounter with the law.

A month later, he plead not guilty to the charges. Then the Oakland Raiders needed a spark in the pass rush. They called Smith days before they kicked-off the regular season, and Smith would be a key component of the team for the next nine games.

Apparently the NFL cared about Smith’s incident so much that they let it linger for 10 weeks. Maybe it was because they lingered over domestic abuse incidents from Greg Hardy (suspended four games), Junior Galette (suspended two games) and Johnny Manziel (not suspended yet)? Plus, there was that whole summer spent on persecuting Tom Brady for cheating and deflating footballs (suspension overturned).

Well all those guys are playing now, but Smith will not be eligible for the rest of this season and half of next season.

I guess he tarnished the NFL shield so much that they let him play for four months.

Nonetheless, Smith violated the league Substance Abuse Policy and Program. He had already served a suspension in 2014. Hence, there were grounds to teach Smith a lesson.

Therefore, the NFL dropped the hammer on Smith, as he and the Raiders struggled to stay alive in the AFC Wild Card hunt.

Not only did the league get Smith’s suspension wrong, but the timing could not have been worst for the Raiders.

The NFL could have waited for Smith’s case to be heard in court, or they could have let him play out the season.

For whatever reason, the NFL decided to announce the suspension in the middle of the Raiders playoff hunt. No pictures or videos of Smith beating up anybody exist. Nor did his current or former team have anything bad to say about his character. Instead, the Raiders franchise and his teammates showed Smith constant support as he was dealt a huge blow. Yet, it is more just for Smith to lose his livelihood than any of the other players mentioned above? The 25-year-old Smith will be a free agent after next season, and he will begin the 2016 season serving the rest of his suspension.

It is outrageous that the Raiders will be without one of their best players for an entire 365 days. Smith got more comfortable in the Raiders’ defense each week. Oakland was battling to end a 13-year playoff drought. The Raiders were also fighting to regain the organization’s respect and a new stadium.

Now, they will have to continue without their second best pass rusher across from Khalil Mack. The pass defense already ranked No. 28 in the league due to a poor secondary. That will get worst without Smith and defensive end Justin Tuck, who is already season-ending IR.

Smith can apply for reinstatement with the team 60 days before the anniversary of his suspension. Even if Smith’s suspension is overturned, it is still horrible timing for the Raiders. Oakland is on a two-game losing streak and the defense showed progress against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Raiders are expected to welcome him back next season. But who knows how he and the team would have developed in 2015?

Smith registered 3.5 sacks, 27 QB hurries, and Pro Football Focus gave him a 8.5 cumulative grade for the 2015 season.

More importantly, Smith stayed on the right track. He did not make any headlines and seemed headed for recovery.

Now, Smith and Raider Nation will watch as the remorseless Greg Hardy and turn-up god Johnny Football continue making plays on Sundays, despite their off-field infamy in 2015.

Boy, did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell mess one up… again.